Now, it's all about your closing tactics!

Including today, at the most, there's about 18 selling days left in the year...and that's assuming that your prospect is not leaving for the week after Christmas, which is, of course, classic family vacation time. 

With those precious 18 days on the calendar and with B2B sales cycles currently being what they are, whatever is going to happen between now and the end of the year, is going to occur after your "Discovery" step in whatever sales process funnel and CRM you're currently using.  Other than maximizing every hour you can in your calendar and consistently using your exacting value propositions, there's very little that you can do to collapse time given the need to now build your business cases with multiple stakeholders...except in the critical last step of closing the deal.  

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Tags: sales coach, sales management coach, sales enablement, marketing effectiveness, how to close sales, sales boot camps, improving sales productivity, how to write a sales plan, writing sales plans

The number is 40ish

Actually, the real number is 39, but I wanted to push, extend, and stretch it to 40, but in the real world of Sales, and more importantly in the world of our customers and prospects, it's impractical to think that we will actually have 40 selling days left in the year.  Definitely 39 but probably only 35 given travel and prep days before Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then no experienced salesperson would ever plan on any of those days between Christmas and New Year's as real selling days.  Even if all of the decision makers were working that week, experience has taught us that the forecasted probability of getting all the required signatures from the legal, finance and purchasing departments is lower than low!  

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Tags: sales coach, sales enablement, marketing effectiveness, sales management boot camp, how to close sales, sales success, how to write a sales plan, planningsalestodayinacovidworld

9 to 5 ???  Are you still using typewriters also?

I enjoy receiving the HBR's "Management Tips of the Day" around 7:00 AM every morning.  First, I've been an avid reader of everything HBR ever since my first job as a purchasing expeditor at Honeywell, and second, it's one of those instant pop-ups that takes 10 seconds to read and often stimulates an idea or two.  My initial reaction was the headline that I then wrote for this blog since most probably none of us have ever worked in a 9-to-5 environment... certainly not as salespeople,  certainly not as entrepreneurs, and most probably just never in any position at any company we've worked in.

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Tags: sales coach, sales effectiveness, marketing effectiveness, how to close sales, sales boot camps, sales success, marketing planning, Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts

2021 is not going to be the same; it'll be better!

Had a very exciting, stimulating and actively engaging discussion end of the day yesterday with 30 of our CEOs, presidents and senior leaders of our customers on the 2021 workplace, and I thought that I'd share with you this morning a few of the takeaways.

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Tags: sales coach, how to close sales, best sales practices;, how to write a sales plan, writing sales plans

Accurate sales forecasting-all about the science!

This morning, with tonight's Nor'easter looming just a few hours from now, and the end of the entire sales year only eight days away, it's interesting to compare two timely forecasting scenarios:
-On one hand, we have local Boston weather forecasters guessing about snowfall.
-On the other, we have professional salespeople forecasting real revenue.

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Tags: sales coach, sales enablement, closing sales, how to close sales, sales boot camps, improving sales productivity, sales success, how to write a sales plan, sales readiness, forgetsalesstrategyfocusontactics

Does structure influence results?

The final Tufts six presentations from my marketing course were completed last Friday.   Six companies provided individual marketing projects, with five to six students assigned to a team back in July so everyone hit the ground running in September.

  • "just extraordinary",
  • "over the top",
  • "far-surpassed expectations"
...were a few of the phrases voiced most importantly by the senior management of our six host companies. 
Each of the management teams of the six companies actually provide 40% of the overall course grade for the semester. Now, this weekend I and my TAs will work through the very difficult job of grading 32 students.

Being a student or being a salesperson is always about the bottom-line reality of how many points go on the scoreboard.  Right now, before I work through the math of the actual grading, it would appear, based on the customer feedback, that there will be an overabundance of "A"s.  In addition to the actual grading, I am very pleased that two of our project companies this semester have provided job offers to three students.   

During one of the debriefs last Friday following their presentation, I asked the six-person team, who worked on the marketing plan for a $40m company looking at a new market, what defined the success of this project for them, and I was struck by the maturity and the exacting management behavior that they expressed.  So, I thought I would share this this morning for you to assess your work during these final two weeks of the year.

  
"Structure influenced our behavior" 

- "Since no one on the team knew another when we began, we defined up front who would do what and what the team and our individual responsibilities would be."
- "We agreed to strict daily and weekly timelines since we knew the reality to deliver a marketing plan in 13 weeks."
- "Yea, we elected a Team Captain, but we all agreed to complete responsibility for the project as a team."


"We committed to rAPID Group Knowledge"!

  • "We agreed to making sure that all six of us knew "everything about everything" so that there were no islands of knowledge. Yes, primary responsibilities were centered in individuals, but we agreed that "Group Knowledge" was most important especially for our research work and for our customer discovery with the company's prospects and customers."
  • "We used a strategy of writing down content quickly that we discovered and also we created as "a stream of consciousness" not caring much about making it formal with punctuation or format."
  • "We used Google Drive and avoided Slack and Teams because Google was just more personally comfortable and immediate for us individually."  
  • "We operated in frequent short sprints with no long meetings until the end" 

"We created Connective Tissue"

  • "Space, time and location were unimportant in our virtual team, and being online virtually actually worked much better than needing to get together physically
  • "Time was now...all the time."
  • "We formally scheduled customer meetings at the same time every single week"
  • "We completed exhaustive discovery up front repeating the same questions again and again until we came to very detailed answers which led to very detailed objectives"

 

As a professor, I always learn as much as I teach! 

I've thought about these comments all week.  The maturity and the sophistication of the basic, but hard things that make a project or one's quota not only achievable, but highly attainable and successful.  This morning as we look out over the remaining 12 days of December, I thought that some of these best practices of managing against the clock and to the project or to your quota might prove useful.  For other ideas, check out our site for tactics at... https://www.derbymanagement.com/sales-productivity

 

Have a great day selling Today...12 days left!

CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

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Tags: Sales Best Practices, sales coach, marketing effectiveness, how to close sales, Tufts marketing projects, how to write a sales plan, sales effectivness, sales readiness

Today's number is 20!

a few Reasons to be thankful!

We just finished what I always consider to be "the best holiday of the year".
--no one really worked last Wednesday, and even if you did, your prospects may not have.
--definitely, no one worked Thursday, and we celebrated with whomever was safe.
--most people did not work Friday other than in retail or necessary services.
--two days of good weather on the weekend came next.
--and yesterday, we closed out November's quota...hopefully on plan!

now it's Tuesday & we have 20 selling days left 

20 days are actually a ton of time to do what we do as sales pros!

With the correctly qualified accounts, all of us, as the seasoned pros we are, have enough time to push down the field, mount play-after-play, bring together the right team and move almost any deal to a close.  That's this week, still early in the game with lots of time left on the scoreboard. 

Next week, not so much time left since we'd already be in the second half of the selling month in pre-holiday time.

The following week, we have no time at all unless we're just a few relative yards/minutes away from pulling everyone over the goal line.   

 

Here's a couple of tactics that always work...

1. Focus on the 80/20 Rule!

Today, as in today-Tuesday-separate out the 20%, (maybe it's only the 10%) of what's in your pipeline that will make the biggest impact on your quota.  In fact, one or two of these opportunities may also be the most difficult and will take maximum time and effort, which is why you're focusing today on the 20% since you have a full 20 days to get to a close.  Plenty of time in fact to make a difference in almost any deal.  

 

2. Get rid of the detractors & interrupters!

The good side of being zoom-distanced is that there are fewer office-talk interruptions although your WFH time may be equally challenged by kids and pets.  The very good news is that you have 20 days.  Multiply that by 10 hours, and you have a ton of time.  The reality of that news is that you have only 20 days. 

  • My buddy, Frank Y., who excels as a BDR, works time zones following the sun across the country.
  • My neighbor, Ray, moves his office to the garage, during the kids' home-schooling hours.
  • I'm up even earlier at 4:00 AM planning out three days ahead and getting rid of the mental clutter. 

3.  Clean up your calendar! 

- Today, plan out all of your selling days for the rest of the year and just jam into those same time blocks everything you think that you will need to do between now and then. 

- Then take an expanded view of what you have just done and make sure that it makes sense balancing what time blocks you now have in your 20-day calendar and what time you have available to actually sell.  Try to view your calendar as if you were 20 feet above the view and not able to see the details other than the available time to sell. 

In some sales markets such as recruiting and real estate, these are called "the money hours", which these highly trained salespeople know from experience are the two or four optimum times during a day to connect with a prospect.
The point here is to take a hard look at what you have available to sell and simply get rid of everything else and forklift it over to January.   Yes, January!

  • I'm a fanatic about time, and I just did this exercise yesterday morning and realized I had overlapping times in two critical presentations and was not allowing enough travel time Wednesday night to prep for a critical early Thursday call.
  • Make sure that you ask your December prospects what their vacation plans are for December and also extend that question to everyone else in the purchasing approval cycle.  Nothing's worse than trying to track down someone in the legal department for a cursory review of the final approval docs when that person is on the ski slopes between Christmas and New Year's.  
  • For sales management, there's the added reality during these same 20 days of having to spend some time fine-tuning the 2021 sales plans you submitted to your boss and the finance people in November. Another reality for sure, and there's no way around that other than weekend work.  Having dealt with this at all levels for 25 plus years, if you want a few ideas as to how to compress time and focus your planning on the sales and financial KPIs that really count, just connect for a no-cost call.  

4.  Clean Body, Focused Mind!  

No, this is not another statement on what you need to do to prevent infection.  You already know more than the basics by this time.  This relates to doing whatever you need to do to stay healthy, efficient, alert and sales-effective through the balance of this month which comes down to the simple truths of exercising, getting enough sleep and eating correctly...just like Mom told us. 

We all know the basics, and, yet most of us struggle with finding enough time or dealing with the realities of not being able go to our favorite gym which we left back in March. 

 

I certainly would rather be back at my workout place in Boston which I last saw on March 9th than walking down into the basement at 4:00 and getting on the Peloton for 30 minutes. But I also know the mental impact of what 30 minutes can make in clearing out the clutter and focusing me for the day ahead. 

................................

Nothing earth-shattering or even new in the four-point outline above...other than the reality of 20 days of superb opportunities in front of us today!   

Have a great day selling today...and for the next 19! 

CONFIDENTIAL SOUNDING BOARD

If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board in business planning or for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time.  Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.

 

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Tags: sales coach, sales effectiveness, sales enablement, closing sales, how to close sales, improving sales productivity, best sales practices;, sales success, sales readiness

Lessons from a Tufts alum on making the best presentations!

I've had the privilege of teaching at MIT and Tufts for 20 and 15 years respectively. The experience...

  • Blends in perfectly with my other passion of consulting in sales, marketing and business planning
  • Reminds me of just how much I still do not know, and my requirement to be a life-long student
  • Provides me with continuing opportunities to catch up with and engage my alums.
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Tags: sales coach, sales effectiveness, marketing effectiveness, sales jobs, Tufts marketing projects, free marketing projects from universities, value propositions, jack derby professor at Tufts

The business of business...

With the end of the month, and my last day of selling activity for October, I'm reminded this morning of the business of every business...no matter what it is....even if it's coffee. 

As I started this morning with inches of snow on the ground and what will be many cups of Keurig Sumatra Dark Roast during the day today, I'm drawn to think about the value and therefore the marketing, the selling and the pricing of coffee.  I had the unique opportunity years ago to work with the Keurig team of entrepreneurs and the initial investors when they were just starting the company figuring out the market, the various sales channels and hiring their first experienced head of sales. Lots of hard work, very exciting on-the-ground and in-the-weeds entrepreneurship which led to an exceptional growth opportunity. 

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Tags: sales coach, sales enablement, marketing effectiveness, how to close sales, sales success, value propositions, how to write a sales plan, sales readiness, planningsalestodayinacovidworld

Still a student after all these years...

Mid-Point in the Semester...

As I approach the mid-term point in my classes at Tufts and MIT, once again, I realize how much of my personal time is as a professor teaching and working with my students, and how much I'm in a role of being a student myself in actually learning and applying new content. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in my courses in Sales and in Marketing, which, even pre-Covid, were undergoing extraordinary rapid change every semester.  It used to be that material I put together in the summer for the fall semester would be okay for the following spring semester, and I could use most of the same content for both Tufts and MIT. No longer!  Last year, I changed 30% of the content going into the spring 2020, and then changed 70% of that material in prep for this fall's semester. This coming spring, I'll probably just start over from scratch again.

Now, deep into 2020, there really is only one mandatory rule that has not changed in Sales and Marketing, and that is to focus more heavily than ever before on marketing and selling customer value and not on you, your products or your services.  2019 evidenced the massive push into the strategy of "value selling" and the tools that go along with it, which has never been more critical than now when buyers are hyper-focused to the metrics of the value brought to their companies.  Add to that the necessity of identifying and marketing directly to personas who today have zero time to waste with old-school salespeople and antiquated marketing tactics.  

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Tags: sales coach, sales management coach, sales management boot camp, how to close sales, writing sales plans, planningsalestodayinacovidworld